Naturopathic medicine is a primary healthcare profession that focuses on prevention and uses natural methods. It is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies and gentle techniques.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are general practitioners of natural health care and employ a wide range of therapies to create a preventative, restorative and individualized approach to health care. These therapies include detoxification, clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine, acupuncture and Asian medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical treatments, lifestyle assessment and counseling. NDs are specialists in preventive health care, integrating scientific knowledge with traditional healing wisdom.
The principles of naturopathic medicine
The following tenets govern the practice of naturopathic medicine:
- First, do no harm ( Primum non nocere )
Naturopathic doctors follow these three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Use methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat.
- Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppressing of symptoms.
- Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual's self-healing process.
- Identify and treat the causes ( Tolle causam )
Doctor as teacher ( Docere )
- The naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and to remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
Treat the whole person
- Naturopathic doctors share information and knowledge with their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health.
- Naturopathic doctors treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors.
Support the healing power of the body ( vis medicatrix naturae )
- Naturopathic doctors emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
- Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person which is ordered and intelligent.
- Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and increase this inherent self-healing process.
Naturopathic doctors in Ontario are provincially regulated with standardized credential requirements. Registered (sometimes called licensed) naturopathic doctors are required to complete three years of pre-medical studies at a recognized university followed by four years of full-time training at an accredited college of naturopathic medicine—a comprehensive and rigorous education program. This four-year program incorporates both classroom and hands-on clinical training. After graduation, NDs must pass intensive regulatory board examinations that are standardized across North America, before qualifying for registration.
Most people are unaware of their employee benefits package. Most private insurance plans include annual coverage for naturopathic medical treatments.